The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $1.1 million grant to the University of Puerto Rico to hire three Disaster Recovery Coordinators to execute disaster recovery efforts throughout the entire Commonwealth.
The project, to be located in a Tax Cuts and Jobs Act designated Opportunity Zone, will be matched with $266,400 in local investment, said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
“The disaster recovery coordinators hired at the University of Puerto Rico will serve as liaisons between local, state, and federal partners to further advance recovery efforts and rebuild the local economy back stronger than ever before,” said Ross.
In 2018, EDA made $587 million available to eligible grantees in communities impacted by natural disasters in 2017, said Dana Gartzke, who is performing the delegated duties of the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development.
“We’re pleased to support collaborative economic recovery efforts to help Puerto Rico further recover following Hurricanes Irma and María and to do so in Opportunity Zones across the island,” Gartzke said.
This project is funded under the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, in which Congress appropriated to EDA $600 million in additional Economic Adjustment Assistance Program funds for disaster relief and recovery as a result of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and María, wildfires, and other calendar year 2017 natural disasters under the Stafford Act.
In June 2019, EDA added Opportunity Zones as an investment priority, which increases the number of catalytic Opportunity Zone-related projects that EDA can fund to fuel greater public investment in these areas.
About 90% of Puerto Rico has been designated as an Opportunity Zone.